ATV part 5 – building a collection, Assignment Five- your capsule collection
As I look back and evaluate the samples I have made I am very aware that my experiments have been leaning toward the idea of the entanglement of the organic and non organic- the fusing together of these materials, almost creating new species. Fishing net so entangled with seaweed that you cant see where one ends and the other begins. The cohabitation of these materials seems to be the norm on our coastlines these days that sadly, many do not even notice anymore. Although there has been a huge soar in public awareness over the last 18 months, mainly due to Sir David Attenborough, of the plastic pollution of our oceans, much more can be done. People are ditching straws and plastic bottles which is great, but a major cause of the pollution is discarded fishing equipment.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world’s largest collection of floating trash—and the most famous. It lies between Hawaii and California…Microplastics make up 94 percent of an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch. But that only amounts to eight percent of the total tonnage. As it turns out, of the 79,000 metric tons of plastic in the patch, most of it is abandoned fishing gear—not plastic bottles or packaging drawing headlines today. A comprehensive new study by Slat’s team of scientists, published in Scientific Reports Thursday, concluded that the 79,000 tons was four to 16 times larger than has been previously estimated for the patch. The study also found that fishing nets account for 46 percent of the trash, with the majority of the rest composed of other fishing industry gear, including ropes, oyster spacers, eel traps, crates, and baskets. 
I wanted to carry on exploring this emerging theme in my collection. I felt I needed to create a few more images to help refine the theme so I went back to my mono prints and made a little fold up book, focusing on the seaweed pod shapes and fishing rope and net. I was conscious to also stick to the brief given, expanding on work already done and creating a unity with the pieces, but felt the entanglement theme was too exciting not to combine with the brief. Also, once an idea is stuck in my mind there’s only one way to get it out and that’s to create it!
I wanted to expand on the woven samples, this time including fishing rope and pieces of net, creating the effect of a coastline woven with pollution.
I used- Wool, hand core spun wool tops, sari silk waste, blue and orange fishing rope, strands of fishing rope, sari ribbon, wensleydale locks, hand dyed gauze/cheesecloth, tulle, various threads, tyvek beads and some of my wet felted seaweed pods from the samples. The piece was hung on driftwood found on the beach. All materials were from my stash, keeping with the reducing pollution idea. I experimented with different weaving techniques, like adding knotting, wrapping the warp threads at the top to look like seaweed pods and differing the number of warp threads I went over and under. I used the hanging knotted wool again as I found that most effective as seaweed in the sample piece. I also added stitching in places over the weaving. This was an intense piece of work that took 3 days to complete but I was very pleased with the result. I feel it captures the theme well, due to pieces being woven and knotted around each other. It keeps to the pod and net/fishing rope visuals and shapes and the colours of the seaweed and fishing rope/net. The texture varies throughout the piece from soft to sculptural, coarse to delicate, highlighting the soft organic forms and the rougher ropes and nets.
For the second piece I wanted to combine the weaving with a pod shape. I made the shape out of driftwood and glued on some Shrimp fishing net instead of warping threads. I wanted to weave through the net itself. I used wool and hand core spun wool. I like the concept of this piece, I love the pod shape created with the wood, but overall I am disappointed with this piece. It doesn’t give a strong image of the entanglement theme and looks like an eye. Viewed with the other pieces in the collection it redeems itself slightly as you can see the connection through the materials used, but, it needs something else- maybe I could have woven the wool in a more haphazard way to create more of a ‘tangle’ or have other pieces threaded through the net, like fishing rope or seaweed pods. Definately more room for experimenting with this one.
This piece was expanded upon from the smaller applique pieces in the samples. This piece is larger and although it uses a lot of different textural pieces it does flow much better than the smaller, jumbled sample. The pieces were laid on calico and free motion machine stitched and hand stitched.
In the center I have used a piece of hand dyed fishing net threaded through with fishing rope, hand spun wool and one of the wet felted seaweed pods from the samples. I feel the colours are more cohesive in this piece compared to the sample piece and the composition works a lot better as well. There is the feeling of line and continuity in this piece, each smaller section flows on nicely to the next. To me it is reminiscent of a stretch of coastline with seaweed and fishing net washed ashore.
Below is a close up section which I particularly like as It has some beautiful textures and muted colours.
Piece 4 continues with the applique but this time I used smaller pieces of different samples, made into panels and joined between each piece with hand stitch with various threads and strands of fishing net. My intention was to make a vertical ‘tideline’. I know maybe a tideline should not be vertical but I tried the sample pieces horizontally and didn’t feel it was aesthetically pleasing. There are lots of different textures, materials and techniques on this piece, but again, there is a flow to it that wasn’t there with the sample pieces. The eye travels easily down the piece, from one panel to the next without any jarring. The joins between the panels are translation of the lines of fishing net and rope, the bubbled textures representing the seaweed pod shapes. I am very happy with this piece, it turned out a lot better than the vision in my head. Its tactile, the colours complement each other and I can see this working in a much bigger scale than I had time to complete.
The photo below shows how it is attached to a small bit of driftwood with shrimp net and stitching and has a dried piece of seaweed on the top. It can be rolled up and unrolled to display it.
I did an illustration of the piece documenting all the materials used and mounted that to a piece of driftwood so it rolls up in the same fashion as piece 4.
This piece was the quickest to make and one of the two that excite me the most. I had no real plans for this piece, except I knew I wanted to create a pod, following on from the idea of the paper pieced pod and the wire and paper pod samples. I was playing with the orange wool wrapped wire, thinking how I could utilize it and it just sort of happened. I wrapped the wire into a spiral, hung a piece of dried seaweed inside it and covered it with hand dyed gauze bandage which I slip stitched with strands of fishing rope up one side. It encapsulates the organic within the inorganic (I know its cotton gauze, so it is organic, but translated here to represent fishing net). It has tyvek pod beads and core spun wool hanging of the bottom, the trailing tail of pollution.
I love how you can see through the net to the seaweed trapped inside. The pod shape was based on the seaweed pods but also reminds me a bit of lobster pots. I feel there is a lot of scope for development of this piece. It would work well at a larger scale with several all hanging together, maybe with different things trapped inside each one. I like that this is 3D, a type of pod vessel, it has a more sculptural feel to it which really excites me, working with a 3D form.
This piece is a sort of culmination of the 3D pod shapes and the embroidery on water soluble fabric from the sample pieces. It is the second piece I am very excited about.
When I washed out the soluble fabric from the sample embroidery it was still quite sticky and stiff and I thought it could be dried around something to make it shaped. But as it had gaps between the seaweed pods I wasn’t sure it would look right as a 3D piece.
So, taking the idea of that and blending it with the vision of a 3D seaweed pod, is how I came up with this piece.
I made the base with pieces of painted and heated baby wipes and poly satin, used fishing net and rope, orange and onion net bags, tulle net, dyed cheesecloth, wensleydale locks, wool, Tassahla silk bits, bubble wrap, painted and waxed kitchen towel and angelina fibres. All these materials were sandwiched between 2 pieces of soluble fabric. I then used free motion machine stitching to ‘draw’ seaweed pods and fill them in with stitches. I then stitched a fishing net design over the top. The soluble fabric was washed away and I shaped the piece over a bowl to dry, pulling out the ends to create the pod like shape. I liked it when it was dry but felt it needed more to express what it was and for the theme of entanglement. I added wire covered wool, tyvek beads and hand spun coiled wool to create protrusions of seaweed like pods. Although there was fishing net and rope in the fabric of the piece it was not that obvious so I used strands of fishing rope to stitch a net over the top, joining the 2 sides together. I love the result! I wouldn’t say it was pretty in a traditional sense but to me it’s beautiful. A friend said it was nice before I put all the other stuff on but felt I had made it ugly! To me, I had given it the depth and elements it needed to express the theme of the work and to expand beyond the experimentation of the sample pieces, whilst still being able to see the transition and connection to the earlier works. I love the shape, texture and colours. The wire pods sticking out of it add interest and make it more sculptural and the fishing net effect over the top draws together the theme of entanglement and fusion.
Evaluation as a collection
(Edited after tutor feedback)
I feel the final 6 pieces are cohesive as a collection due to the use of a strong, but limited colour palette and the repetition of materials used in the pieces. This draws the collection together even though each piece is unique on its own.
There are 3 pod shaped pieces and 3 linear pieces which although coincidental, works well to express the elements I chose to concentrate on which were the linear forms of fishing rope/net andthe 3 dimensionality of the seaweed pods.
The theme of the entanglement of organic and in-organic, runs through every piece, due to the use of natural materials and found materials,combined together, such as the strands of fishing rope used to join pieces together, or the wet felted seaweed pods woven into the fishing net and lines of weaving.
There is one piece that I feel lets the collection down and that is the pod shaped driftwood weave. I believe the concept is good, but the execution of the design could have been better thought out. Rather than the weaving on the shrimp net looking pod like as I intended, it looks more like a big eye. I like the shape of the driftwood frame and the use of the shrimp net but I would look again at how I did the weaving and maybe include some other elements, like the felted seaweed pods or found fishing rope to enhance the form and make it more cohesive with the rest of the collection.
I think the piece with greatest potential for development is piece 5; the orange wrapped wire and blue gauze pod vessel holding the seaweed inside. This could be made much larger, there could be more of them, each holding something trapped inside, such as a crab claw or a shell. This would further the theme of entanglement- something natural being held/trapped inside of something unnatural, a metaphor for the pollution that is swallowing up our seas and coastlines.
There are 3 pieces which really stand out to me and those are the vertical tideline applique- piece 4, the gauze wrapped pod- piece 5 and the pod vessel-piece 6. I think these stand out to me because they are very experimental and abstract and took me out of my comfort zone. Although not ‘pretty’ pieces by any means they are aesthetically pleasing and I feel that because I went with my gut and developed the theme of entanglement alongside the brief given, it gives more depth and story to the pieces, they mean something rather than just fulfilling the requirements . I feel that these really could be developed as textile art, a feeling that inspires me so much as I actually feel like I have created something that has a meaning.